web analytics
a

Facebook

Twitter

Copyright 2015 Libero Themes.
All Rights Reserved.

8:30 - 6:00

Our Office Hours Mon. - Fri.

703-406-7616

Call For Free 15/M Consultation

Facebook

Twitter

Search
Menu
Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "John McDonnell MP"

Andrew Gimson’s Commons sketch: Corbyn the Puritan takes on Johnson the Merry Englander

Jeremy Corbyn said Boris Johnson has “a reputation for enjoying life to the fullest”. The jibe was made at the start of his speech, in the course of a rather laboured joke, but many a true word is spoken in jest.

Johnson certainly does have a reputation for enjoying life. He even looks as if he enjoys being Prime Minister.

Corbyn regards him with a disapproving eye. To the Puritan, there is something sinful and self-indulgent about enjoying oneself.

Puritans often make the mistake of supposing their objections to pleasure are widely shared. They think shutting the theatres and cancelling Christmas will be popular.

In the present case, they assume the profound moral revulsion inspired in them by the sight and sound of Johnson is felt by all decent people.

They could be right, but Johnson does not think so. He said of Corbyn, “his policy on cake is neither having it nor eating it”.

In other words, Corbyn is a pinched, mean-spirited figure who wants to stop us enjoying the good things of life.

Johnson has always presented himself as a pro-cake politician. No sooner did he become Prime Minister than he announced that he wants to hand out many of the good things of life at public expense, and will pay for these by letting the free market flourish.

Today he condemned John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, for flinching at the mention of the free market.

He accused McDonnell of conducting “Soviet-era explusions”, purging Corbyn”s lieutenants “as Lenin purged the associates of poor old Trotsky”.

And while McDonnell “tightens his icy grip on the Labour Party”, the contrast with the Conservatives becomes ever starker: “We are putting up wages…they would put up taxes.”

So although the opening salvos in the debate on the Queen’s Speech were unexciting, to put it mildly, from a policy point of view, they did illustrate the antipathy between Johnson and the Labour front bench.

Merry England takes on left-wing Puritanism, indeed rejoices in ridiculing it. That is what will happen in the forthcoming general election.

Not that Johnson had things entirely his own way. Antoinette Sandbach, one of the Tories who recently had the whip withdrawn, called on him to “reverse the Marxist-style expulsions from the Conservative Party”.

One assumes this Merry Englander will do so as soon as he has got Brexit done.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Neil O’Brien: Fifty shades of conservatism

Neil O’Brien is MP for Market Harborough.

You might say socialism and liberalism are ideologies, while Conservatism is more like a character trait. But that’s not quite right. Socialism and liberalism are ideologies about maximising one thing, be it equality or freedom. In contrast, Conservatives believe in a wider variety of ideals.

So what kind of conservative are you?

Since the classic Liberal party gave way to Labour, we’ve been the party of the free market and sound money, even more so since the Thatcher/Reagan era. The free market is a such huge part of what we are about, it tends to dominate, but there’s much more to conservatism.

Perhaps you are a law and order Conservative: patron saint Thomas Hobbes, who, inspired by his experience of the civil war, observed that without strong authority and law and order, life tends to be “nasty, brutish and short.”

But in a nice example of how conservative ideas fit together, a strong law and order policy is also a One Nation policy: because who suffers when there is crime and disorder? Those who live in the most deprived fifth of neighbourhoods are 50 per cent more likely to be victims of crime than those in the richest fifth.

Or perhaps you are a constitutional conservative. Do you believe in keeping the Monarchy? A House of Lords that isn’t elected? Do you believe in keeping first past post elections, and an unwritten constitution? Do you believe in the common law and rule of law? Those ideas are more important now Labour believes in expropriation of your pension, your shares, your house, and anything else that isn’t screwed down.

Perhaps you’re a conservative because you believe in Liberty. Habeas Corpus. Limits on Government. Legal protection of personal and family life. Liberty always raises contentious issues like hunting or drugs. Or think of recent cases like the gay marriage cake. I thought the courts got it right: a business can’t refuse to serve gay people, but people can’t be made to promote political views they don’t hold, even if I disagree with those views.

What do we think about the growing deployment of live facial recognition technology in public places? Liberty lovers might want to ban it. Law and order fans might want to allow it.

Liberty-loving conservatism can also clash with another ideal – social conservatism. Are you worried about family breakdown? What do you think about transgender issues? What do you think about full facial veils? That question pits liberty against traditional pattern of our society. France banned them, we allow them.

Do you think what you get out of the welfare system should be linked to what you put in? And how should we make choices about immigration: do we just think about migrants’ skills and earnings, or how easily they will integrate into our culture? I incline to the latter view.

One big idea that I think fits under social conservatism is the idea of the nation state. National self-determination and the lack of a shared European demos powers the idea of Brexit, but it also explains why we are prepared to make compromises to try and keep the United Kingdom together.

Zooming down from the nation to the individual, conservatism is about individual self-reliance. That’s why we strongly support individual home ownership. Mrs Thatcher expressed this well. She said that people: “are casting their problems at society. And, you know, there’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then, also, to look after our neighbours.”

Things like the doubling of the Income Tax Personal Allowance and the National Living Wage – and also welfare reforms – are about self reliance. George Osborne was onto something when he talked about a “higher wage, lower tax, lower welfare spending” society. Personally, I believe tax should be based on the ability to pay, and so we should bring back the higher tax allowances for children Labour abolished in the 1970s.

But conservatives don’t just believe in individualism. We are the society party. Civic conservatives know that many problems can’t be solved by either the free market or the state. David Cameron said: “There is such a thing as society, it’s just not the same as the state.” When we think about problems like loneliness in an ageing society, we can only solve them by catalysing and helping voluntary groups and family life. The Big Society may have been a good idea, badly timed. But the ideal of voluntary action remains very attractive, I find particularly to younger conservatives.

Conservatism is also about gradualism. Burke attacked the French revolution as a huge, risky, leap-in-the-dark.
Gradualism is behind all our biggest policy successes. Welfare reforms started under Peter Lilley, continued under New Labour, and then under another Conservative government – and now have the record employment. The academy schools programme also spanned governments: from Kenneth Baker to Gavin Williamson.

In contrast, Socialists believe in utopian leaps. In the USSR and under China’s Great Leap Forward millions died, yet John McDonell still says, “I am a Marxist”. In contrast we should be proud gradualists. What do we want? More use of evidence. When do we want it? After randomised control trials.

As well as gradualism, Conservatism is about pluralism and decentralisation. Environmentalists have shown us why it is dangerous to have a monoculture of anything, because if things then go wrong, they do so on a huge scale. Think about the Irish potato famine.

Take a more recent policy example: during the heyday of disastrous progressive teaching methods, they swept all before them. But independent schools and grammar schools were a bastion for traditional methods (like phonics), which could then make a comeback after trendy methods failed.

Devolution allows experimentation. In the US they say the states are “laboratories of democracy”. Ideas like welfare reform or zero tolerance policing were tried locally and taken up nationally when they worked. Conservatives also believe in pluralism in a deeper way. People have different ideas of the good life.

That’s one reason I think we should keep the honours system – to recognise those who are motivated by something other than money, whether they want to serve their country on the battlefield, or help their community by running a youth club. That should inform our thoughts on things like childcare. Do we just focus on maximising employment or education? Or let people choose if they want to be stay at home parents?

I’m sure readers will point out things I’ve missed. But those are some of the main elements of Conservatism.
Law and order. The Constitution. Liberty. Social Conservatism. Civic Conservatism. Individual-self reliance.
Gradualism. Pluralism. Ideas that are sometimes in tension, but which fit together.

Conservatism is a bit like the roof of parliament’s Westminster Hall: which is held up by a lot of huge, ancient beams all resting on each other. Likewise, the elements of conservatism fit together, and have also made something really strong and enduring.

This article is based on a contribution by the author to a Centre for Policy Studies event, “Free Exchange: The case for conservatism”, at last week’s Conservative Party Conference.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Rob Colvile: Here’s how to show that the Left doesn’t have a monopoly on compassion

Robert Colvile is Director of the Centre for Policy Studies. His new report ‘Popular Capitalism’ is published today and available at cps.org.uk.

“Like most of the rest of the Left, much of Labour seeks to delegitimise the Conservatives altogether – in other words, rob them of their right to be heard by suggesting that they are beyond the ethical pale.”

I was struck when I read those words by Paul Goodman on ConservativeHome this week – because they were almost identical to ones I had just written:

“Many on the Left appear to believe – and are eager to tell the world – that they have a monopoly not just on compassion, but basic humanity. To be a conservative, in their view, is simultaneously illegitimate and inhumane. It is to hate the poor and love the rich, to put profits above people, to be wrong not just on the facts, but in your heart. And the same is true of being a capitalist.”

That section comes from the introduction to a new essay, published today by the Centre for Policy Studies, called Popular Capitalism. It is my attempt to explain why support for the free market is not just pragmatic, on the grounds that it is the best tool we have yet found to create and share prosperity, but deeply moral – because it trusts people enough to give them more control of their own lives.

Thinking about this, it struck me that arguably the best path to convincing people of the merits of capitalism is to extent Vote Leave’s famous slogan – “Take Back Control” – to the domestic agenda. For politicians to make it clear that their priority is to promote ownership and opportunity, enterprise and aspiration.

The essay, of course, suggests concrete ways of doing this, based on our policy programme at the Centre for Policy Studies. We suggest raising the National Insurance threshold so that everyone gets the first £1,000 a month they earn tax-free; addressing public concerns over the fairness of the welfare system by ensuring that it treats you more kindly if you have proved worthy of trust; addressing the ownership crisis that scars our society by incentivising landlords to sell to tenants, and providing those tenants with the core of a deposit; and freeing small businesses from the burden of tax and administration by offering them the chance of paying a simple levy on turnover.

All of these policies are fully developed, fully tested and – according to our research – extremely popular. But they also say something very profound: that the politicians adopting them really are concerned about the many rather than the few.

One of the most alarming things about the current Labour leadership – aside from its attempt to elevate “Never kissed a Tory” into a principle of moral supremacy – is how adroitly it has stolen its enemies’ clothes. Popular capitalism, in its original form, was a brilliant Thatcher-era coinage, reflecting both the desire to widen participation in the economy (by giving people homes to own and shares to buy), and to make capitalism popular by proving that people could benefit from it.

Today, Labour talk relentlessly about ownership. But where Thatcher told people (rightly) that militant trade unions were preventing them from having the freedom to live good lives, John McDonnell tells people (wrongly) that “the Tories” and “the bosses” are doing the same.

Labour is selling its renationalisation plans, for example, as being about taking from “the shareholders” and giving to the people. To the many, from the few.

Of course, the devil is very firmly in the detail. Labour’s plans for employee ownership of companies, for example, turn out to involve a massive tax grab by the state – and a blocking vote for trade unions on corporate boards.

Or take the nationalised industries. These, Labour argue, should be run by a harmonious alliance of customers, workers (represented via their union leaders), the community (represented via council placemen or Left-wing activists), and the wise hand of government.

But what happens when these interests collide? What happens when the unions want a pay rise that is against the interests of the customers?

And what happens when the customer is dissatisfied? Under a nationalised system, they cannot take their money elsewhere. They have lost control in a fundamental way.

The moral of this story is that competition – in both public and private services – is not just good, but essential. Example after example shows that the key to driving up performance is to put power in the hands of customers and consumers. Because no matter how much you venerate doctors and nurses and teachers, the brutal fact is that any organisation run by human beings will – without a corrective mechanism – come to be run for the convenience of those self-same human beings.

In the two years since I took over the Centre for Policy Studies – the think tank founded by Keith Joseph and Margaret Thatcher – I keep coming back to those original speeches and pamphlets that set the Thatcherite agenda. And one of the most striking things is the moral streak that runs through them – especially through the speeches of Thatcher herself.

So often, she grounds her remarks in a point of moral principle, proceeding outwards to apply that principle to the political environment.

It is a style of rhetoric that sounds utterly alien to modern ears. But one of its main effects was that people very certainly knew who and what she was for. As she told her first party conference as leader: ““Policies and programmes should not be just a list of unrelated items. They are part of a total vision of the kind of life we want for our country.”

It is impossible to overstate the difficulties faced by Thatcher and those around her as they wrested the British economy on to a better course in the 1980s. The fact that Britain has a private sector that basically works, that it has millions more people in employment, that inflation has been tamed, that our lives are not disrupted by strike after strike, that we can afford to pay for our public services – all of these are ultimately down to the reforms she pioneered.

Yet in retrospect, it is clear that the reformers of those days had one under- appreciated advantage. If they wanted to show why they were right, they could simply say: “Look around you.” Their radical diagnosis of Britain’s problems could only be implemented because voters had lost all patience with the alternative.

Today, a free-marketeer invoking that phrase might seem, to harsher critics, more like Ozymandias, inviting those admiring his statue to survey what amounts to ruins. Or, to put it more prosaically, if people today see our society as capitalist, then they see the problems with it as the product of capitalism.

This is why defenders of capitalism cannot be satisfied with the status quo. They need to show how they can make people’s lives better – to accept that their problems are real, rather than telling them that they may not own a home, but at least they have an iPhone.

Arthur Brooks, the outgoing president of the American Enterprise Institute, has a beautiful way of challenging his fellow conservatives on this issue. Why, he asks, do you get up in the morning? Is it to entrench the power and wealth of those who already have power and wealth? Or is it to expand the power and wealth of those who do not have them?

If it is the former, he says, you are doing evil. If it is the latter, you are doing good.

All conservatives, in other words, need to dedicate themselves to giving people opportunity. To giving them ownership. To giving them control.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Iain Dale: Beyond Westminster, Johnson’s stock with the public remains high

Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and is a commentator for CNN.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

The Left uses far worse language about the Tories than Johnson would ever use about the Benn Act

With the Prime Minister accused of dragging British political discourse into the gutter over his dubbing Hilary Benn’s Act compelling him to seek an extension of Article 50 the “Surrender Bill”, it is worth recalling the treatment to which Conservatives have been consistently subjected in recent years.

This will prompt allegation of ‘whataboutery’, but whilst it is correct that two wrongs don’t make a right it is nonetheless important to bust the myth that Boris Johnson is somehow pioneering the use of rough language – if ‘Surrender Bill’ qualifies as that. So consider, for example –

Whilst this has become much more prominent at the top of the Party since Jeremy Corbyn took over, the rot predates his leadership. ‘Words have consequences’, and consistent denunciation and dehumanisation fostered an atmosphere in which:

None of this conduct is acceptable, and nor would it be if Brexiteers or Conservatives were to engage in it. But it is all considerably more serious than the use of the term ‘Surrender Act’, and makes a nonsense of Jess Philips’ attempt to draw some morally-significant distinction between her merely ‘losing her temper’ and the Prime Minister’s alleged strategy “specifically designed to create fear and division”.

After all, what were all those cries of ‘coup’ doing, if not attempting to stoke up fear and anger against the Government? Same goes for the Liberal Democrats’ Ed Davey comparing the Prime Minister to a ‘dictator’.

Maybe both sides can row back. Emily Thornberry has, for example, recanted her recent remarks comparing the Liberal Democrats to the Taliban. But with those two parties currently sharing a trench such a rapprochement looks more like political courtship than genuine contrition.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

“The Surrender Act”

We have a simple test for the Prime Minister’s use of the term “Surrender Act” as a shorthand for the Benn Act in the Commons.  Would we deploy the phrase in a comparable way?  The answer is that we wouldn’t.

This isn’t because the description is unfair.  Parts of the EU seem to believe that the UK must be made an example of in the Brexit negotiations – décourager les autres.  And the Benn Act gives it considerable power over the terms of extension.  The Prime Minister’s use of “Surrender Act” as a figure of speech is fair enough in itself.

Nor is it because the phrase somehow legitimises violence.  Alison McGovern and Paula Sherrif were foolish to suggest otherwise – and to raise the murder of Jo Cox.  Responsibility for murder lies with those who commit it.  If those Labour MPs deplore violent language in politics, they should be even-handed about it.  Remember: no less senior a Parliamentarian than John McDonnell has said of Esther McVey: “Why aren’t we lynching the bitch?’”

No: the reason we wouldn’t use “Surrender Act” as a synonym for the Benn Act in our editorials is simply a matter of taste.  “The Surrender Bill” is not the Bill’s real title.  These courtesies in the setting of an editorial matter: for the same reason, we don’t usually refer to Remainers as Remoaners.  It is not just a matter of accuracy, but of keeping the discussion civil.

Which isn’t to say that we don’t use images and language that some will find offensive – such as describing John Bercow as “this Gollum of a Speaker” today.  Debate should be robust.  If a guest writer or a columnist wanted substitute “Surrender Act” for the Benn Act on this site, that would be fine.  In the same way, would be one thing for a Minister to do the same from a party political platform, but is quite another to so from the Commons’ despatch box.

If that sounds stuffy – well, so be it.  For conservatism isn’t about conserving the good – including good manners – then what is it about?  “Just as ‘surrender’ & ‘betrayal’ is inflammatory language, so is ‘coup’ and ‘fascist’”, Brendan Cox tweeted yesterday evening.  “Let’s all play our part in dialing it down.”

He’s got a point, which Boris Johnson should take no more or less than anyone else.  The vileness of Twitter trolls, the bullying social media mobs, the threats to families: these are driving good people out of politics and keeping others away.

Not to mention poisoning the cultural air which we must all breathe.  All this is quite bad enough without invoking the spectre of murder.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

WATCH: McDonnell – Labour will tackle ‘national scandal’ of social care

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

WATCH: McDonnell sets out Labour’s reasoning for refusing an election

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Iain Dale: Don’t mention the war, please. Why Johnson was wrong to suggest Hammond and company are collaborators.

Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio, and is the author of the forthcoming book ‘Why can’t we all just get along’.

Last week at the Edinburgh Festival, John McDonnell told me that Labour would insist on Jeremy Corbyn leading any interim government of national unity, following any successful vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson’s administration.

I told him that this idea was delusional, since the Labour leader wouldn’t be able to command a majority in Parliament in such circumstance.  Yesterday, Corbyn confirmed that this is exactly his intention.  But since there are plenty even of his own MPs who don’t have confidence in him, one wonders how he thinks he could persuade those of other parties to row in behind him.

Jo Swinson has made it clear she wouldn’t. Anna Soubry is p**sed off that she wasn’t even cc’d on his letter. I have never thought a national unity government is a runner, and I think it’s even less likely now. Jeremy Corbyn really believes that defeating No Deal is the be all and end all, he wouldn’t be taking such an uncompromising stance. I wonder if his public aversion to it is as deep as he is making out.

– – – – – – – – – –

Corbyn says that he will call a Vote of Confidence when he thinks he can win it. Well, obviously.  But his rhetoric at the moment leads me to believe that he’s in danger of boxing himself in. The more he talks about it, the more pressure there will be on him to deliver it. And if he doesn’t, he’ll be painted as ‘frit’.

– – – – – – – – – –

The defection of Sarah Wollaston to the Liberal Democrats was among the least surprising news of the week. She will surely not be the last of the original Independent Group of MPs to travel that particular journey. I’d have thought there will be at least a couple more before their conference takes place.

And then, of course, there could well be one or two defections directly from the Conservative benches. Guto Bebb and Phillip Lee are the candidates most often mentioned. Both seem to be going through a bit of public agonising. I suspect if either of them, or indeed anyone else does the dirty deed, it will be at a moment of maximum impact. August is probably not that time.

– – – – – – – – – –

The Prime Minister was unwise to use the word ‘collaboration’ on his Facebook Live session earlier this week. He was rightly complaining that the actions and words of some Conservative MPs – and he clearly had Philip Hammond in mind – were persuading the EU to stick by its guns while they wait and see what havoc Parliament can wreak when it returns in early September.

His sentiment was right – but you can’t go throwing around words which have World War Two connotations and effectively accuse some of your Parliamentary colleagues of being quislings (another word with the same suggestion).

To so so debases the debate. I don’t know if it was a deliberate use of the word, or whether it just slipped out. If the latter, fine; but if it was a deliberate attempt to feed into the ‘People v Parliament’ narrative, well, there are better ways of doing it.

– – – – – – – – – –

On Monday, I returned from my two weeks appearing on the Edinburgh Fringe. In 24 shows, I interviewed Sir Nicholas Soames, Brandon Lewis and Eric Pickles (together), and Johnny Mercer, among many others. We’re releasing all the interviews on a new podcast, Iain Dale All Talk, which you can now subscribe to on whichever platform you get your podcasts from.

– – – – – – – – – –

Today is the first day of my first and only holiday of the year. It will last ten days and I intend to spend it in Norfolk doing precisely nothing. Apart from play golf. And binge-watch box sets. And write next week’s ConHome Diary, of course.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Henry Hill: Wallace rejects amnesty for Ulster veterans, but wants inquiries restrained

Wallace rejects amnesty for soldiers but wants inquiries curbed

This week Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, revealed that he is opposed to offering an amnesty to members of the Armed Forces who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

Whilst arguing that they should receive “the very best legal advice and support”, the former Security Minister is reportedly concerned that any amnesty would also need to be extended to paramilitaries and terrorists. According to the Times, he said:

“We must make sure we don’t let off the hook the murderers that are still out there and need to be hunted down and convicted of the killings that they took part in.”

This will be controversial due to the previous scandal over so-called ‘comfort letters’, which were issued by the Blair Government and are widely viewed to have given a de facto amnesty to IRA terrorists. They came to light after collapsing the trial of John Downey, who was being prosecuted over his role in the Hyde Park bombing.

However, Wallace did offer ex-servicemen some hope. The Daily Mail reports that he doesn’t want any new investigations to proceed unless actual new evidence emerges against individual soldiers. He also stated that he did not intend to allow the history books to be ‘rewritten’, and that the Armed Forces should be proud of what they achieved in Ulster.

This is addressed directly at the concerns of many unionists, who worry that the historical inquiries process is unfairly targeting the Army and Royal Ulster Constabulary and thus bolstering a republican narrative of the Troubles.

Labour’s civil war on the Union deepens

Last week, I wrote about how John McDonnell had opened a rift in the Labour Party over their stance on a second Scottish independence referendum.

In what looked like a fairly shameless bid to woo the SNP, the Shadow Chancellor announced that a Corbyn-led government would not stand in the way of a second referendum.

This sparked huge controversy because McDonnell appeared to be unilaterally re-writing Labour policy on the issue – and cutting Scottish Labour off at the knees to boot.

Although he initially doubled down on his remarks, this week opened with Labour officially ruling out entering into any formal alliance with the Nationalists to oust the Tories, instead committing to governing as a minority government in such circumstances.

If true, this suggests a remarkable amount of strategic incoherence. Such an announcement is unlikely to undo the damage McDonnell has likely done to Labour’s standing with its unionist voters, whilst ruling out an alliance appears to rule out any potential dividend from his actions. Of course, it does invite us to speculate as to what constitutes a ‘formal alliance’…

Meanwhile the Scottish party has condemned the national leadership, and Labour MSPs have vowed to ignore the Shadow Chancellor’s new policy – although left-wing allies of McDonnell hit back at ‘kamikaze unionists’ in a leak to a separatist site. The surprise departure of Brian Roy, the General Secretary of Scottish Labour, added to the turmoil.

On the Tory front, David Mundell has cropped up to suggest that it would be very difficult for the Government to resist legislating for a second referendum in the event that separatist parties won a majority at the 2021 Scottish election. (He is mistaken.) Meanwhile a poll found that only two fifths of Scottish voters think another referendum should be granted in the next five years.

Salmond paid half a million by the Scottish Government

It is often suggested that Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP pursue independence so vociferously in part to distract from the hash they are making of governing Scotland. This week provides yet another raft of embarrassing headlines which lend weight to that suspicion.

First, and most shockingly, it emerged that the Scottish Government has paid out almost half a million pounds to Alex Salmond, the former First Minister, over its mishandling of its official inquiry into allegations of sexual misconduct levelled against him. This money was to cover his legal costs after he mounted a successful legal challenge on the matter.

That case is separate to the criminal case against the former SNP leader, who is charged with two attempted rapes, nine sexual assaults and two indecent assaults. He denies all wrongdoing, but the case remains a time bomb ticking under the Scottish Government – Sturgeon was Salmond’s protege, and it was her administration that presided over the botched inquiry into his conduct.

If that weren’t enough, elsewhere this week we learn that once again the Nationalists’ university fees policy has seen Scottish pupils missing out on places offered to applicants from elsewhere in the United Kingdom; the SNP Health Secretary has announced that an embattled £150 million hospital may not be open by the end of 2020, following concerns about the construction process and reviews of its safety; and a pro-Nationalist business magnate is furious that the Scottish Government may be about to nationalise a shipyard he rescued.

This week in commentary

There has been quite a bit of interesting commentary on Union-related issues this week, so rather than scatter them throughout the rest of the column I’ve collated them here.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Jeremy Warner suggests that Brexit has made Scottish independence more difficult (only two years after ConHome considered that point proven, but still). Rather than be bullish about the implications of this he chooses to finish on a maudlin note, but that’s unionism for you.

From his new vantage point at the Atlantic, the excellent Tom McTague (formerly of Politico) sets out why Brexiteers are right to be deeply concerned about the Irish backstop. The analysis isn’t perfect, but it’s a rare sympathetic take on the pro-UK position.

In the Scotsman, Brian Monteith – now a Brexit Party MEP – suggests that Ruth Davidson’s decisions have imperilled the UK, whilst Paul Hutcheon writes in the Herald that the biggest threat to the Union is Scottish Labour’s collapse.

Finally, Iain Martin has decided that the way to save the UK is radical constitutional reform including devolution to England, a senate, and the rest. As is traditional for advocates of this position, he appears to just assume it will work, and makes no attempt to explain why identical assumptions about the last two decades of the devolution project have all come to nothing. Sigh.

News in Brief:

  • Varadkar ‘opposed to direct rule’ as he prepares to meet Johnson – iNews
  • Controversial cybernat blogger to launch new separatist party – The Times
  • Lib Dems and Greens to join anti-Brexit alliance with Plaid – The Spectator
  • SDLP sparks row after querying Union Flags on Tesco fruit – Belfast Telegraph
  • Scottish Court to hear ‘fast-tracked’ legal challenge to Brexit – FT
  • Ex-Plaid leader criticised over comments on carrying knives – The Sun
  • RBS ‘will move to England’ in the event of independence – The Scotsman

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com